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Transfers, postings new bone of contention

Centre vs AAP government

New Delhi, July 5: Notwithstanding the Supreme Court ruling on the Delhi government’s powers vis-a-vis the Lt Governor, a new tussle broke out on Thursday with the AAP government claiming that the powers to transfer or post officers lie with it while a Union minister said Delhi being a Union Territory makes its powers subservient to the Central government. The war of words erupted a day after the Supreme Court pronounced its judgement over jurisdiction of powers between the Centre and the Delhi government, saying the Lt Governor has to abide by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.

The new controversy, which arose hours after the apex court’s verdict on Wednesday, assumed serious proportions when Delhi’s Chief Secretary (Services) refused to issue an order that the Council of Ministers in Delhi would decide on departmental transfers and postings. The AAP government asked the officers to respect the Supreme Court order, saying disobeying it amounted to contempt of court and would invite serious consequences. Earlier, in a four-page letter written to Lt Governor Anil Baijal, Kejriwal said that after the Supreme Court judgment, the executive powers related to “services” lie with the elected government and not with the Lt Governor or Central government. Kejriwal said the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that Delhi’s Lt Governor was constitutionally bound by the “aid and advice” of the elected government in all areas except land, police and public order.

The Chief Secretary cited a 2015 notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs as the reason for rejection, saying it has not been specifically quashed. Calling this “contempt of court”, Kejriwal said: “The said notification becomes infructuous in the light of clear orders of the Supreme Court. The judgment of court has been effective the moment it was pronounced.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who directed its services department to issue the order, said the refusal by senior bureaucrats to comply with Supreme Court ruling amounted to contempt of court. Sisodia said the government was now seeking legal opinion on the matter. The AAP leader said that after the Supreme Court order, the central government had no control over the service department in the capital. He said the centre, the LG or the officers may not like the court order but they will have to abide by it.

The AAP government went aggressive after Union Minister Arun Jaitley rejected claims by AAP on the powers of the Delhi government, saying the Supreme Court judgement emphasises the importance of the elected state government but Delhi being a Union Territory makes its powers subservient to the Central government. In a Facebook post, he also said the apex court has held categorically that Delhi cannot compare itself on par with other states and, therefore, any presumption that the administrative control of the UT cadre of services has been decided in favour of Delhi government would be wholly erroneous. Jaitley said the judgement elaborates at length the constitutional philosophy behind the Constitution and reaffirms precisely the text of what the Constitution says. (IANS)

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